Doug Berch

Dulcimer Maker And Musician

cropped Dulcimer Builders and Makers 1 23

What’s On The Bench – January 14th, 2019

Shaping dulcimer braces with edge tools.

Last night I realized this blog started in 2007 when I returned to dulcimer making following a 25 year detour. Since then my dulcimer designs and methods of work have continually evolved and this shows no sign of changing. This makes me happy!

As I continue to learn and develop skill with hand tools I am drawn deeper into older methods of work. Shaping wood with sharp tools appeals to me and I find comfort in knowing that if the power goes out I will still be able to work!

In the photograph above I have just finished shaping a spruce back brace. The shaping began with a low-angle block plane, then a finger plane, and finally a scraper. The next step will be tapering the ends of the brace with a chisel and fitting them into the side kerfing.

There was a time I felt obligated to sand back braces because I worried some imaginary person might think my braces looked rough because I “skipped” sanding them. Lately I think differently; I see the small facets on the brace that show I shaped them with edge tools. I see the slight irregularities edge tools leave behind. I see that I had been there and I had done something. Again, this makes me happy.

None of this means I will never sand braces again. It means I like following my intuition and inspiration. Creativity is never static.

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3 Comments

  1. William Allmam

    Mornin Doug. Nice picture! In fact , I know you will laugh, . I wanted to see the joint where the brace crossed over so I tried to blow the sawdust away.
    Only a woodworker……….
    Sure a clear picture, that’s my excuse!
    Keep up the good work.

  2. Tom Devers

    Each mark we leave as you say leaves the mark of the person who created it. That gives the person who receives it the joy of discovering that person’s creativity. My work is not as good as yours but I enjoy seeing how what I’ve done is appreciated. I don’t make musical instruments but the feeling goes across many things made by hand.

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Doug Berch & Dulcimer Makers